(The Surah of Paradise)
on Qur'ān 12:10
Introduction Stephen N. Lambden
Part XIII of the provisional translation of the Qayyūm al-asmā’ (= QA) of the Bāb (mid. 1844/1260) with brief introduction and selective notes, consists of a full versified English translation of the Sūrat al-firdaws (The Surah of Paradise). This translation was done in 2014 though not from any critical edition. I simply consulted several good ms. The Surah title is literally translated `The Surah of Paradise' .... The versification of the surahs of the QA is often uncertain and I only tentatively count 42 verses in QA13 retaining versification for the sake of reference and commentary.
Though the versification of the surahs of the QA is sometimes uncertain the Bāb himself stated that there should be forty-two verses in each (of the 111) surahs as accords with the abjad numerical value of lī meaning "before me" in Q. 12:4b (Ar. لي = l + ī = 30+10= 40) and another two representative of "the sun and the moon" (40+2 = 42). This figure is explicitly confirmed in the Bāb's early Khuṭba al-dhikriyya ("The Sermon of the Remembrance") where it is stated in the context of an imamologically numbered categorization of the early works of the Bāb dating from between 1260-1262 (AH):
"The Fourth [revelational categorization] is the Ḥusaynid Book (kitāb al-Ḥusayniyya) which is the Commentary upon the Surah of Joseph (Sharḥ Sūrat Yūsuf [= Tafsīr Sūrat Yūsuf = Qayyūm al-asmā']) -- upon him be peace -- which is divided up into one hundred and eleven firmly established [clearly delineated] (muḥkamat) surahs. Every one of them is made up of forty two verses. These constitute a sufficient [messianic] testimony unto whomsoever exists upon the earth or lieth beneath the Divine Throne (al-`arsh)..." (cited Afnan 2000: 472; cf. 445).
The same forty-two mode of surah versification of the QA., is evident in certain mss. of this work; most notably the early 1261 mss. of Muhammad Mahdī ibn Karbalā'ī where QA1 and 2 (and other surah headings) have following words after the surah title (e.g. Surat al-mulk) and in between the basmala, wa hiya ithnā'[tāni] wa arba`ūn "and it [the Surah] has forty two verses". In the following translations I retain this sometimes uncertain versification for the sake of reference and commentary.
Though the versification of the surahs of the QA is often uncertain, the rhyming prose accusative endings are the primary indication. In QA 3 the 42 verses seem clear enough though such sometimes seems "symbolic" rather than a clear setting down of 42 bayts (verses) of rhymed prose (saj`) -- although this seems to hold good for certain suras such as, for example, QA5. Elsewhere the "forty-two" configuration cannot easily be set forth. It should also be noted that some verses of the QA are fairly short while others extend for occasionally very long pericopae ("paragraphs") as is also the case in the Qu'rān itself with which the QA has a great deal in common especially respecting its form, style vocabulary and Arabic in rhyming prose etc.
QA13 opens with the basmala followed by the citation of Q.12:12 upon which it briefly comments in rewritten fashion in the course of the Surah of Paradise (Sūrat al-firdaws). The three qur'anic isolated letters (ḥurufat al-muqaṭṭa`ah).The three qur'anic isolated letters (ḥurufat al-muqaṭṭa`ah) طهم Ṭā-Ḥā-Mīm [abjad = 57] X-X-X open the Surah proper. The letters Ṭā-Ḥā = abjad 17 occurs XX times in the Q. at Surah A-L-M open the Surah proper, the letters ADD This succession of 3 letters occurs XX times in the Q.